Animals Feel and are Aware

Animals Feel and are Aware

While certainly birds and animals experience the world differently than we do, “differences between species are differences in degree rather than kind.” “It might be obvious to everybody in this room that animals have consciousness; it is not obvious to the rest of the world.

So say the scientists who signed The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness this summer at the Francis Crick Memorial Conference at Cambridge. The discussions focused on consciousness in human and non-human animals using “a purely data-driven perspective on the neural correlates of consciousness.”

The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that  non-human  animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of  conscious  states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional  behaviors.  Consequently,  the weight of evidence indicates that humans  are not unique in  possessing  the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.

For some, this may be stating the obvious. But in many parts of the world, animals are treated appallingly. Including in North America. One need only visit a typical factory farm or puppy mill to ask some hard questions. If chickens can display empathy, where does that put us?

New Scientist comments

Last Updated on January 11, 2014 by Davidya

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